Last year against the LSU Tigers, Feleipe Franks couldn’t buy time with a $100 bill. During the Florida Gators homecoming game against their SEC rival, UF’s quarterback was thrown to the ground five times and completed only ten passes against the Tigers defense.
Last Saturday, against the LSU Tigers, Franks was a crucial leader of Florida’s offense. The redshirt sophomore was a manager for the Gators, with the running game leading UF to its big victory over the fifth-ranked Tigers.
What’s Working on Offense
A strong running game will always benefit a football team. This year, the two-headed monster of Jordan Scarlett and Lamical Perine has given the Gators just that. While no runner on the team is blowing the stat book away, the Florida backs are breezing through opposing defenses with ease. Both Scarlett and Perine will go into this Saturday’s contest against the Vanderbilt Commodores with over five yards per carry.
The running backs have also benefitted from an offensive line that is playing comparably better than last season. With the reemergence of lineman Brett Heggie this weekend, Florida will head into the latter part of the 2018 season healthy in the trenches.
A healthy offensive line will also benefit the quarterback they are protecting. Franks said at Monday’s press conference that their hard work helps the offense as a whole as they progress through the season.
Another credit Florida got in the offseason was the amount of talent in the wide receiver room. This year, fans have seen head coach Dan Mullen utilize some faces Gator fans have wanted to see since their recruitment.
Guys like Josh Hammond, Freddie Swain and Kadarius Toney have all reaped the benefits on Mullen’s new offense. They’ve all made their impacts at different times and are helping Florida move forward as an offense.
Hammond said on Monday they all feed off one another and want to see the entire wide receiving room succeed.
Comparing Florida’s Offense to Last Year’s Unit
Under former head coach Jim McElwain, Florida’s offense was abysmal. Ranking at the bottom in many offensive stat categories, the new regime, and leadership headed by Mullen has been a breath of fresh air to Gainesville. While the offense is still a work in progress, the Gators scenario is looking far brighter than it did just one year ago.
Hammond talked about the difference in the two matchups against the Tigers. He recalled what it was like for Franks to be under center with McElwain’s offense.
There’s Still Work to Do
While watching the offense grow has been a comforting sign, the Gators still have a steep climb to the top.
Ranked in the middle of the FBS in total offense, the Gators continue to struggle to throw the ball downfield at times. Florida is averaging only 198.8 yards of offense through the air, just inside of the top-100 teams in the country. UF also struggles on third-downs. In 68 chances, the Gators have moved the chains on the money down only 24 times this season (35.3 percent).
If Florida wants to see improvement from the offense, they’ll need to stay on the field and keep the ball rolling. An aerial attack would open up the field if the running backs continue to do their job.